To Give or Not to Give - That is the question
When I arrived home from work yesterday, my wife shared with me an interesting dilemma that she had been faced with earlier in the day.
She had gone next door to visit our neighbor, and while there, two high school students came to the apartment who were collecting for a charity called: Agudah L'ma'an HaChayal (loose translation: Organization on behalf of Soldiers). This organization is responsible for providing Israeli soldiers with recreation centers and other amenities that help to make their time in the army that much more comfortable.
Our neighbor has been very involved in helping the Jews of Aza and the Shomron who had been expelled from their homes as part of the "Disengagement" plan (and who have been abandoned by the powers-that-be and are suffering greatly), and was in Gush Katif for a number of weeks prior to the expulsion.
She made it very clear to the two students that under no circumstances would she give any money to any organization that was assisting the IDF, which was responsible for the expulsion of thousands of Jews, and that she isn’t even sure if she will send her children to serve in the IDF.
The two students went on the defensive, arguing that not every soldier participated in the expulsion, and it's not right to punish all soldiers - who, by and large, do so much for the Jewish People and State of Israel, even if one didn't agree with the IDF's involvement in the "disengagement".
Ultimately, the two students left empty-handed, and I imagine, not in the best of spirits.
My wife expressed to me her mixed feelings regarding the situation. On the one hand, we were very much opposed to the expulsion, and believe that it was wrong for the IDF to have been involved in such an action. At the same time, we still do recognize the importance of the IDF, and as my wife expressed, we can't afford to totally reject all connections to the IDF, for numerous reasons, and as such, it might have been better to give something, as opposed to having these two students leave feeling the way they did.
Honestly, I don't know how I feel.
On the one hand, my wife and I are not rich by any means, and with the limited amount of money we have to give to charity, I can think of many better addresses than the IDF these days. On the other hand, while it may not be a relevant issue right now, I imagine, if I had a son, that I would encourage him to serve in the IDF (although I would make it clear to him that he would have my absolute support if he felt the need to refuse any order that was inconsistent with Jewish law). As much as it seems that the IDF, through the manipulation of the government, has betrayed so many of the principles and values that are central to the Jewish People, in the long run, we still need the IDF, and there is a value (a Mitzvah, in fact) to serving in the IDF and defending the Jewish People and Jewish State.
So, I do believe that our neighbor was right for choosing not to contribute to this particular charity. However, I am not totally certain that the she needed to express to the two high school students her reasoning behind not wanting to contribute. On the other hand, perhaps it was important for these two high school students, who will themselves be enlisting in the IDF in the future, to know how much pain, suffering and anger the participation of the IDF in the expulsion of thousands of Jews has caused.
Tough choices. Tough times.